Sunday, November 30, 2014

ASH: Young Folks with Lymphoma

If you have read enough of Lympho Bob, you know I was diagnosed a few months after I turned 40.

I've seen a few studies of "Young Adults" who have been diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, and the usual definition of "Young" is under 40. Personally, I felt pretty dang young when I was diagnosed. Cancer is for old people, and this particular cancer was especially for old people, typically diagnosed in those over 60.

Well, I have found a study that defines "Young" as 18-40. Woo hoo! 40 is young!

(Of course, I'm closer to 50 now, and feeling old, but we'll ignore all of that.)

Another of the interesting ASH abstracts is called "Disease Characteristics, Treatment Patterns, and Outcomes of Follicular Lymphoma in Patients 40 Years of Age and Younger: An Analysis from the National LymphoCare Study," written by a bunch of researchers from impressive institutions all over the U.S.

They call Follicular Lymphoma in the 40 and under crowd "extremely rare," and point out that little is known about disease characteristics and outcomes for this group. They looked at 164 Young Adult patients in the National LymphoCare Study (about 6.2% of the total).

As for treatments, 19% did watch and wait, 12% got straight Rituxan, and 47% got some kind of chemo + Rituxan (about 61% of that group got R-CHOP).

As for outcomes, Overall Survival at 2 years was 97.4%, and at 5 years, 93.7%. After 7 years, it was 92%. Those are pretty good numbers. In fact, the researchers call them "outstanding."

What's really interesting was that they compared the numbers to people who had been diagnosed between the ages of 41 and 60 -- you know, older folks.

They found that the survival numbers were pretty much the same.

In other words, younger patients really don't need to be treated any differently than older patients.

I think that's encouraging for younger folks. While there haven't been a lot of  studies that have looked at them (us) directly, there was some slight worry that younger patients might have more aggressive disease. That doesn't appear to be the case.

And it's encouraging for the Old Timers, too. Just in case you thought those young folks were somehow better off  than you, that doesn't seem to be the case.

And the really encouraging thing is those "outstanding" Overall Survival numbers. There's no guarantee, of course, that our disease will ever behave like the statistics say it will. But if you're young and looking for a reason to be happy, that's a good one to hang on to.


Anonymous said...

So Bob, you always say if they can keep your around for 5 years they can keep you around for 50. SO doing the math, it sounds like they will keep you around for 70 years. These stats are already old in that these patients were treated prior to the newer treatments used today like Benda-R and iummonotherapy. The sky is the limit.

Anonymous said...

Great news Bob I hope that applies to me someone in the mid forties now.

Lymphomaniac said...

I think you're right -- the stats are old, and we probably are in better shape than even these stats suggest. 70 years for me? I don't know if my wife will put up with me for that long....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Bob, it's put a big smile on my face today! I was 29years old when diagnosed with stage 4 FL, and knowing that is a rare age group for FL plays on my mind a lot. I worry that I might not be able to slot myself into any of the reassuring statistics out there because my age makes my cancer weird and maybe as such it will have weird and unpredictable behaviour compared to the norm... But your article eases my worries big time :) - Jess

Anonymous said...

The stats will only go up. You posted the Stanford era study last year and for the group of patients diagnosed a quarter of a century ago the median OS was 18.4, a 67% increase from the prior era (11 years). And these era 3 patients did not take Rituximab initially. So if each era increases only 25% in OS, then these days there is no telling where we are at in era 6. Odds of Cure/Control being developed in the next 10 years is high. In the next 20, almost a certainty. We might even have it today and do not know it. Oh, and the bonus is you are getting scanned for any cancer annually. Those that are not cancer pts can not say that.